New Survey Reveals Americans Seeking Cash & Gold in These Tumultuous Times

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Last Updated on: 14th December 2020, 06:07 pm

We conducted a survey asking 1,500 Americans which investments they viewed as “the safest” right now for their IRA or 401(k). We used Google Surveys and targeted males and females between the ages of 55 to 65+ from coast to coast. We asked the following question with several possible responses:

Which of the following investments do you view as “the safest” right now for your IRA or 401(k)?

  • Cash
  • Gold & Silver
  • Stocks & Bonds
  • Real Estate
  • Other alternative assets
  • US Treasury Issued Securities
  • Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.)

Cash Is Considered The Safest Investment Right Now For An IRA Or 401(k) During These Unprecedented and Tumultuous Times

 When asked which investment they considered the safest for their retirement account during these uncertain times, an astounding 33.5% of participants indicated cash.

Across all the demographics that participated in the survey, over a third of all surveyed considered cash to be the best investment option right now in an IRA or 401k. When demographic filters were applied to the results targeting specifically females between 55 and 64 years old, the was a slight increase to 33.8% making this cohort most likely to view cash as the safest investment for an IRA or 401(k) at the moment.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in truly unprecedented times. Countries around the world are grappling not only with the repercussions of the pandemic on public health and society, but likewise, the economic ramifications of this crisis. Therefore, it is unsurprising that during these utterly tumultuous times, Americans are far more comfortable simply keeping cash in a retirement account, especially those either approaching retirement or already of retirement age.

Gold & Silver Are Viewed As The Safest Investments For A Retirement Account, Especially For Females between 55 And 64 Years Old

 The next most popular response to the survey question was gold and silver, with 16.8% of respondents selecting this investment option.

Interestingly, when demographic filters were applied to the results specifically focusing on females between 55 and 64 years old, the percentage increased to 18.4%. Thus, American women approaching retirement consider precious metals like gold and silver to be the safest investment during this uncertain period.

Historically, gold has proven to be a good investment during periods of turmoil. In addition to the obvious deleterious impact on public health from the COVID-19 crisis, the economic ramifications of the global pandemic, as yet, are indeterminable. Therefore, IRA-approved gold and IRA-approved silver make for a safe investment choice. Therefore, the results of the survey come as little surprise given that we are currently living in a period of fear and tumult.

Males Consider Stocks & Bonds To Be Safest Investment Right Now For Their IRA or 401(k)

 The third most popular investment option for respondents was stocks and bonds, with 15.1% indicating that they viewed these as the safest for an IRA or 401(k).

Curiously, when demographic filters were applied to the results targeting specifically males, the percentage increased to 16.9%. Consequently, American men who participated in the survey consider stocks & bonds the second safest investment option for a retirement account. Interestingly, when demographic filters focused solely on females, 13.5% of women indicated that they viewed this investment option as the safest – coming in fifth out of the seven investments.

Despite the fact we are in the midst of a bear market induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, some American investors (males especially) appear to be far less risk-averse. Although there seems to be no immediate end to the market volatility, some investors still view stocks & bonds as the safest investment option for their respective retirement accounts.

Women Approaching Retirement View Real Estate As The Safest Investment For An IRA Or 401(k)

 The next investment that was considered “the safest” for a retirement account was real estate, with 12.4% of survey participants choosing this option.

Yet, when demographic filters were applied solely to females between the ages of 55 and 64, the percentage leapt to 14.7%. Conversely, when the demographic filters specifically targeted males 65+, 9.2% indicated the real estate option – thus making real estate the second least-popular safe investment option for this cohort.

Retired Women 65+ See Other Alternative Assets As The Safest Investment In A Retirement Account

 Another investment option considered the safest choice for an IRA or 401(k), was other alternative assets – with 11.7%.

Interestingly, when demographic filters were applied to the survey results focusing on females 65+, an astonishing 15.3% of this age group selected this investment option. Thus, retired American women considered other alternative assets the second safest investment to have in an IRA or 401(k).

Very Few Americans Consider U.S. Treasury Issued Securities To Be The Safest Investment For Their IRA Or 401(k)

Only 9.6% of those who participated in the survey, said that they viewed U.S. Treasury Issued Securities to be a safe investment for their retirement accounts.

However, when demographic filters were applied, some compelling results were revealed. When males 65+ were solely targeted, the percentage soared to 14.6%. Conversely, of the female participants 65 and over, only 6.2% indicated that they considered this to be a safe investment for a retirement account.

Cryptocurrencies Ranked Dead Last With All Demographics As The Safest Investment For A Retirement Account

A decidedly paltry 1% of survey participants considered cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) to be the safest to have in an IRA or 401(k) at the moment.


For all demographics that participated in the survey, cryptocurrencies ranked dead last amongst the safest investment options. Taking into consideration that cryptocurrency is a newer asset class, coupled with its high volatility even during normal times, its position in the survey rankings comes as no surprise in the least.


The world is in the midst of navigating through wholly uncharted territory in these most unprecedented of times. Ages hence, undeniably the global COVID-19 pandemic will be regarded as the definitive moment of this modern age. It comes as little surprise given the tremendous uncertainty we collectively are facing with this crisis, that Americans are seeking hedges like cash and gold as safe investments for their retirement accounts. During this tumult, at least Americans can ensure that their hard-earned retirement savings remain safe for a brighter future.

Details About The Study And RMS Score


Audience: Users on websites in the Google Surveys Publisher Network

Method: Representative

Age: 55-64, and 65+

Gender: All Genders

Location: United States

Language: English

Frequency: Once


Root mean square error (RMSE) is a weighted average of the difference between the predicted population sample (CPS) and the actual sample (Google). The lower the number, the smaller the overall sample bias.


Sarah Bauder
Sarah Bauder

Sarah Bauder has a decade of experience at numerous publications, writing about finance, politics, economy and more.

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